39th Birthday Post

A couple of weeks ago I realized I’d been going through what is commonly known as a mid-life crisis. Which means, I suppose, I’m going to live to be 78. Whatever age I manage to make it to, I was subconsciously feeling like I have accomplished nothing in my first 39 years of existence.

I suspect I won’t undergo these kinds of growing pains upon my “Big  4-0” next year since my anxiety this year was centred around the feeling of OH MY GOD I ONLY HAVE ONE MORE YEAR TO ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING BEFORE I’M 40!

By October of next year it’ll be a moot point since it’ll be all too clear that I wasted another year ineffectually pottering about in my basement, quietly grumbling at the world for ignoring my undeniable greatness, and dejectedly admitting the world has far better things to pay attention to. Really, the same routine I’ve been following for 39 years now. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

But every year I do try to fix it. With my birthday falling so close to the end of the year, this is when I make my resolutions. This year my overarching goal is to feel like I accomplished something by the time I’m 40.

The problem with this goal is whenever you accomplish something, that merely means you’ve made it up another rung of the accomplishment ladder and you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything worthwhile. I read somewhere, probably in an article about Steve Jobs, this is just the way ambition works.

Truth be told, in the last three years I’ve accomplished more that I had in the previous 35. Professionally I make more money, the podcast has maintained a small audience (though how many downloads are actually listened to is unknown), I’ve sold more of my music  (and finally put out a vinyl record) and had more media coverage for said music than ever before, yet it still feels like treading water.

So what rungs do I want to climb before the end of November, 2012?

  • Take Moonwood on tour this summer, whether it’s just four crappy cities in Ontario or a dozen cities in Germany and Scandinavia. Touring is something I’ve avoided (it seems like a horrific experience) but have always felt not doing it has delegitimatized my status as a serious musician. Perhaps it has more to do with myself not being very serious about being a musician in general, but I have always blamed it on the lack of touring.
  • Actually do something with Nerd Hurdles other than stagnate indefinitely. Although I’m one of the most derisive eyerollers when podcasters whinge about the futility of podcasting and start dropping hints they’re going to kill their show, lately I’ve become more sympathetic to that attitude. Not that we don’t have fun doing the show, but we have fun together anyway. We don’t need to actually record our random bullshit.
  • Get rid of the beard. It’s started making it hard to do things. I need to hold books way out in front of me as if I have poor eyesight, or really big boobs. Plus, it keeps getting in my food at an ever increasingly disgusting rate. And also, I haven’t seen my face in over three years (long enought to forget how much I really hate shaving). I’m wondering if I’ve noticeably aged under there. It’s become a bit of a fascination for me. First I’d like to enter a beard contest though. And when I shave it off, do it for charity some how. I bet I can auction off a merkin made out of my beard.
  • Open a music venue in South Etobicoke. This is a terrible idea doomed to failure purely based on geography and TTC limitations. But there’s pretty much absolutely nothing down there—not really even bars with crappy cover bands—yet there’s got to be people who wish there was. There’s a freakin’ music program at the college next door to our house! Still, I’d like to give it a shot. Do something community building in my neighbourhood for once in my life. Maybe if I get laid off.
  • Finish the rewrite on my novel Terminal Park and either get some sort of publisher interest in it or self-publish it for the “Kindle” market.
  • Refresh my study of Taoism so that I can go back to not caring about not accomplishing anything.

Maybe I’ll just focus on that last point.

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11 Responses to 39th Birthday Post

  1. I hear you regarding the desire to tour. I’ve always felt like a bit of a fake because of that too. To be honest, I sense that you and Mandi are going through the motions with NH. I would HATE for you to stop doing the show, and hopefully if you axed it your desire to podcast would mutate into new channels like your music has, but I hope you find a way to regain some enthusiasm for NH. Perhaps like me, your obligation to Simply Syndicated will maintain your production of the show while you figure out how to love doing it again. And good luck with the beard!

  2. Well…I suppose either of us could quit tomorrow. I personally think being a part of SS means I’m obligated to come up with regular programming (I’ve never missed a week since the PCRP joined, although there are many weeks I’m not too interested in putting a show together). But I’m lucky, 99% of my show isn’t about me, or me moving my stupid mouth. Didn’t you get that email from Rich a few months back reminding us that our “contract for appearance” (quotes mine) required us to post twice a week on Simply Read? That’s why I post my awful cd reviews. Frankly, Rich obviously runs a very loose ship. I know he and Will, etc, have been podcasting for years, but I wish they’d do more shows, even if it were “series”, that we as listeners had some sense that shows where coming regularly. The “federation” shows have become the flagship shows. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that, NH and SB66 have long been personal faves, but I miss the old ‘flagship” shows. We all have real lives.

    • OK, Will does do a good job putting out FTATR. I miss TDW, I guess. I like the chat shows the best, I think, and I put NH in that category. I guess I am glad, for my part, to be on SS as my listenership has increased 1000%. Although when I hear of other music podcasts getting 10s of 1000s of listeners a week, it drives me nuts a little bit. But then I think, my ego is one of my biggest enemies, and I try to find some other new and shiny thing to distract me….

    • nerdhurdles says:

      Yeah, we all got that email. But as you point out, the federation shows are the flagship shows now—ATW9K specifically—I think we’ve all fulfilled our obligations.

      • I only meant that being on SS might be a catalyst to your creativity and production during those periods when you are less than inspired. I think my mental make-up needs that sense of obligation to motivate me at times. It’s one reason I enjoy collaborating musically.

      • nerdhurdles says:

        Deadlines can be motivating. But they can also make things a chore. Since we get pretty much absolutely zero return (not even fan feedback) on doing the podcast these days, having it not even be fun to do makes is a waste of our time (specifically mine as the editor and blog writer).

  3. I am guilty of not commenting on your show, yes. Chalk it up to no internet at home, so I talk to the walls. I would have to write you a letter, and post it later. If it makes you feel better, I just posted on the PCRP forum at SS, and it hadn’t been posted on since July! I can see how this is an issue for you and myself) having a public show. I think the real trap is letting your ego get involved with your music and social media feedback. As much as it is interesting to post mp3s online and get a pat on the back now and then, for myself, I miss how I was creative in the 90s, musically. I got NO feedback, I didn’t even give away cassettes of my recordings. It was totally and purely an exercise of self-expression.

    • nerdhurdles says:

      You don’t have to worry about not commenting. Or Bucho or Ori or Erwin or Karen because we know you all like the show and we even know pretty much which parts of an episode each of you will or will not like. It’s the fact there’s over a thousand other listeners who are silent. When we took a month off, not a peep. Used to be an episode being a day late caused an uproar. Sounds whiny to complain about it, but I don’t podcast as a creative outlet, I don’t do it for “myself”, I do it to entertain people and if they’re not being entertained… not enough to care if we stop doing the show…

      I’m at the stage now where I don’t have much interest in doing anything unless I’m rewarded in some form. And as I said in this post, I get rewarded just by hanging out and talking to Mandi about stuff and recording and editing it doesn’t add anything to that reward. If anything, it lessens it.

      • Fair enough. The older I get, all I really want is to love and be loved. To add layers of complication to that, i.e. “let’s catalog this experience”, is more than I want or need as well. I’ve spent the last 25 years of my life cataloging my every damn reaction to my every damn experience, be it songwriting or poetry, or even for a while, that FI podcast. But I have noticed that it is living in the moment that makes me happiest these days. I have a good friend that I am close to, and occasionally I babysit her kids. To be greeted with a hug and to play Barbie or whatever with a 5-year old girl is quite honestly the happiest I’ve been in years. And I don’t need to blog about it, or podcast about it, I just need to live it and drive home with a smile. To bring this discussion back to “obligation”, I think it is far too easy to feel obligated to an online presence. It’s the main reason I have ponied up the extra $ to get wi-fi at home. I kind of like “checking out” from the online world.

  4. Er….NOT ponied up the extra $ to get internet at home!

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